Livestock industry earns $14.9B in 2021
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Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha

FOR the Year 2021, Guyana’s thriving livestock industry has raked in an impressive $14.9 billion in revenue.

This is according to Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, who said that these earnings were as a result of local sales only.

“This is what we’re making from the local market alone; imagine what we can do when we start to export,” Minister Mustapha said in a brief interview with the Guyana Chronicle on Tuesday.

He said that last year’s livestock revenues were derived from production totalling 49,785,387 kilograms of livestock animals, inclusive of ducks, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and black giant chicks among other things.
Minister Mustapha told the Guyana Chronicle that the government’s aim is to institute the requisite mechanisms that would allow for Guyana to begin exporting its livestock.

In recognising the importance and the potential of the livestock industry, the Government of Guyana has pledged to not only invest in the development of the sector, but also accommodate investments within the sector.

Already, investments in Guyana’s poultry industry have increased exponentially; available statistics show that private injections into this industry have surpassed US$67 million ($14.4 billion).

Traditionally, the demand for output from the poultry industry has always been high, but the zero-rating of this commodity and other adjustments between August and now have created the conditions for wider investments and more lucrative results.

When the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government assumed office in August 2020, efforts commenced to remove the Value Added Tax (VAT) on fertilisers, agrochemicals, pesticides and key inputs in the poultry sector, including poultry feed, building materials and packaging; the government also gave the poultry industry zero-rated VAT status.

Since those adjustments, there has been a stark increase in investments in this industry, with about 500 new farmers getting into poultry farming between August and December 2020 alone.
Minister Mustapha has said that the increased interest in the industry augurs well for Guyana, and will supplement the growth of the country’s burgeoning oil-and-gas sector.

The Ministry of Agriculture is working assiduously to kick-start the exportation of livestock

In his 2021 national budget speech, Minister Mustapha said that the measures introduced in the government’s 2020 budget initiated a reversal of all the challenges facing the livestock industry, and approximately 5,000 small farmers and broiler producers.

Added to this, Budget 2021 included the provision of G$806 million to the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), an increase of $46 million. With the interventions of Budget 2021, the government said that it hopes to create an environment for local producers to benefit from the increasing demand for meat coming from the thriving oil-and-gas companies, as well of other local businesses.

Worryingly, meat imports for 2019 were pegged at $20 million, even though Guyana is self-sufficient in that particular commodity.

Going forward, Minister Mustapha said that much emphasis will be placed on exporting meats and gaining access to emerging markets, especially the high-end supermarkets and hotels, as well as players within the mining and petroleum sectors.

“A certified production chain is required,” Minister Mustapha had said previously, noting that GLDA has begun the design and development of an animal traceability system, which would be fundamental for Guyana to meet international food safety standards and farm certification.

He’d also pledged the government’s commitment to ensuring that all laboratories are certified and fully operational, so as to address the needs of livestock farming and its reliant communities.
Those efforts also include the construction of a sample collection area at the nutrition laboratory at Mon Repos, on the East Coast Demerara.

“This will improve laboratory processes to determine the composition of the feed and feeding material in order to formulate the best ration for the animals from locally available feed materials,” Minister Mustapha said.

Further, in an effort to make the livestock industry self-sufficient, the government is investing $500 million to enhance the infrastructure in the intermediate savannahs, so that the private sector would be able to invest in the large-scale production of corn and soy beans, which are used to make feed.

“If we can produce the amount of corn and soya beans required to become self-sufficient in proteins for our poultry industry, those funds can be used to further develop the sector. As a government, we are also working to reduce Guyana’s food import-bill and food-import dependency,” Minister Mustapha had said.

As it is, Guyana’s national feed consumption for the poultry industry is 113,000 tonnes annually, with ‘broilers’ consuming approximately 100,000 tonnes of feed, and ‘layers’ consuming approximately 13,000 tonnes of feed annually.

Additionally, some $29 million has been earmarked for the establishment of a modular pig slaughtering and processing facility at Garden of Eden, as the importation of pork and pork products reaches almost 66 per cent.

“Ham, bacon and sausage make up the bulk of the imports. Based on our data the swine industry is producing at 10 per cent of its true potential. With the introduction of the new [imported] breeder herd and with the supply of improved breeding stock to swine producers, output will increase, creating more income-generating opportunities,” Mustapha said previously.

Additionally, last year, some US$3.3 million was invested into beef production and US$670,000 into small ruminants, predominantly sheep and goats.
The livestock sub-sector contributes approximately 13.6 per cent of the agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 2.8 per cent of the total GDP.

Livestock is commonly defined as domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce labour and commodities such as meat, eggs and milk, among other things.

In addition to investments and earnings, livestock is closely linked to the social and cultural lives of several million resource-poor farmers, for whom animal ownership ensures varying degrees of sustainable farming and economic stability.

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